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ARTICLE

Classification system

In the 18th century, Carl Linnaeus published a system for classifying living things, which has been developed into the modern classification system. People have always given names to things that ...

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Marine food webs

Feeding relationships are often shown as simple food chains – in reality, these relationships are much more complex, and the term ‘food web’ more accurately shows the links between producers ...

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Human impacts on marine environments

Throughout human existence we have relied on the oceans – for food, as a waste dump, for recreation, for economic opportunities and so on. However, it’s not only our activities in the marine ...

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ARTICLE

Adaptations of marine organisms

Adaptation is an evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes increasingly well suited to living in a particular habitat. It is not a quick process! Natural selection over many generations ...

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Earthworm adaptations

Adaptation is an evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes increasingly well suited to living in a particular habitat. Natural selection results in helpful traits becoming more common in a ...

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Native bird adaptations

New Zealand separated from Gondwana around 65 million years ago. Due to the geographical isolation and a lack of ground-dwelling predators, our birds evolved unique characteristics. Flight was ...

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Environmental conditions affecting the sea

On land, the most important environmental conditions affecting organisms are rainfall and temperature. In our oceans, there are a number of environmental conditions that affect the growth ...

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Adapting to marine habitats

Being able to adapt is a matter of life or death. In a perfect world, organisms would not need to adapt. However, changes to the environment and food web mean that organisms need to move, if they ...

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Ecosystems

What is an ecosystem? An ecosystem is made up of animals, plants and bacteria as well as the physical and chemical environment they live in. The living parts of an ecosystem are called biotic ...

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Birds’ roles in ecosystems

An ecosystem consists of all of the organisms living within an area and the interactions between them and the physical environment. All ecosystems, whether they are marine, freshwater or located ...

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ARTICLE

Monarch butterflies

New Zealand’s most identifiable butterfly is the monarch (Danaus plexippus). Although found in many places around the world, the monarch is considered a New Zealand native because it became ...

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Sea stars

When is a fish not really a fish? When it’s a starfish! Starfish is the common name for a group of animals called sea stars. Sea stars are actually part of the phylum Echinoderm and are related ...

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Soil formation

New Zealand has a wide variety of landscapes. A day’s sightseeing journey might include volcanic plateaus, rolling hills, river basins and coastal lands. It is easy to notice how the scenery ...

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Niches within earthworms’ habitat

Asking where earthworms live may seem like a silly question. Doesn’t their name say it all? Soil may appear to be a homogeneous place to you or me, but not to earthworms. There are two ways to ...

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ACTIVITY

Build a marine food web

In this activity, students build their own food web using images of organisms from the marine ecosystem. This activity can be done indoors on paper or outdoors on a tarmac surface using chalk. By ...

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Charles Darwin and earthworms

Charles Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution as set out in his book On the Origin of Species. He was a naturalist – an expert in geology, botany and biology – whose interest in all ...

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What is in soil?

What’s in soil? When you pick up a handful of soil, what do you see? All soil is made up of inorganic mineral particles, organic matter (including living things), air and water. Inorganic mineral ...

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Butterfly defence mechanisms

Butterflies are the exhibitionists of the insect world. For many invertebrates, camouflage is the best defence against predators, so how do brightly coloured butterflies protect themselves? The ...

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